Saturday, November 24, 2007

In Memoriam: Jane Denton, wife of Senator Jeremiah Denton, Jr.

This post is featured at Catholic Carnival #147, hosted this week by Jay at "Living Catholicism." To check out other quality Catholic writing, click here.

While I don't typically publish other people's work here, I received this in the mail today from Judy at and wanted to pass it along as an example of how Catholics can and do make a difference in public life. Please say a prayer for Jane and her whole family.

In Thanksgiving for Jane Denton
by Judy McCloskey

On Thanksgiving Day (22Nov2007), after suffering a heart attack, surgery, and postop complications, Mrs. Jane Denton, wife of Senator Jeremiah Denton, passed away. Jane married Jeremiah the day he graduated from the US Naval Academy on 06June1946. Together, they had seven children. Nineteen years and one month into their marriage, her husband’s plane was shot down over enemy lines during the Vietnam War. Then Captain Jeremiah Denton spent the next eight years in a communist POW camp, four of those years spent in solitary confinement.

A year after his capture, during a recorded propaganda campaign forcing POWs to confess to humane treatment under threat of brutal torture – Capt Denton blinked, using Morse code to communicate: TORTURE. His taped interrogation having reached America, intelligence recognized and understood: US prisoners in Vietnam were in fact being tortured. A 1½ minute excerpt can be viewed at the National Archives website:

While Jerry was captive and tortured, Jane remained strong in her Catholic faith, prayerfully and steadfastly devoted to the souls on her spiritual radar. Jane worked tirelessly raising their children and became an activist for POW and MIA families. She helped found the National League of Families of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, credited with contributing to the ultimate release of her husband and numerous other POWs. Jerry was finally released, authored “When Hell Was in Session”, retired as Admiral, elected Senator of Alabama, and founded the ADM Jeremiah Denton Foundation, dedicated to keeping America “one nation under God.”

In 1985, then Secretary of the Navy invited Mrs. Jane Denton to sponsor the USS Mobile Bay. The ship was commissioned in Mobile, AL, hometown to both Jerry and Jane Denton. The Naval Historical Society explains “When a woman accepts the invitation to sponsor a new ship, she has agreed to stand as the central figure in an event with a heritage reaching backward into the dim recesses of recorded history…. The tradition, meaning, and spiritual overtones remain constant. The vast size, power, and unpredictability of the sea must certainly have awed the first sailors to venture far from shore. Instinctively, they would seek divine protection for themselves and their craft….”

Understanding well her sponsorship role, in September 2002, one year after 9/11 when “her ship” prepared to deploy to Afghanistan, Jane Maury Denton, urged Mobile residents and others "to remember the ship and the crew in their prayers."

"My pleasure at receiving the honor is multiplied by my love for the Navy, my concern for our national defense, and my pride in having a fine ship named for Mobile Bay," Jane once said.

Jane’s children are living testimony to her vocation as an iconic military wife, mother and patriot. “She was the most faithful, selfless and dedicated wife and mother," says Michael Denton.

"She never stopped giving," says William.

Jane will be sorely missed, but long remembered as an exemplary Catholic Navy wife. Perhaps God called her on Thanksgiving Day as a reminder of the gift Jane is. For military wives looking for an example to emulate, there is Mrs. Jane Denton. Ask her now to intercede for you. Nothing will stop this woman of grace from giving completely of herself, in this life or the next.

Judy McCloskey writes from her home in the Arlington Diocese. She is the founder of Catholics in the Military.


Dymphna said...

May God bless her.

onionboy said...

God rest her soul.